• Thursday, Apr 15, 2021
  • Last Update : 12:32 am

First day marks lacklustre lockdown

  • Published at 09:35 pm April 5th, 2021
Several hundred shop owners and employees stage a demonstration for the second day at Dhaka’s Nilkhet area, protesting the government's decision to shut down all shopping malls and markets during the weeklong lockdown Mahmus Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Even customers were seen gossiping at tea stalls, having food at eateries and smoking cigarettes with not a care in the world and that too without wearing masks

Despite the country going through a weeklong lockdown on Monday, the opening day of the shutdown saw a random breach of the restrictions imposed by the authorities.

Shops were open in many areas, with some streets seeing a notable rush of traffic. 

Even customers were seen gossiping at tea stalls, having food at eateries and smoking cigarettes with not a care in the world and that too without wearing masks. 

Many hawkers and street vendors were out on the streets to sell various daily essentials among various other products. 

Rahim Mia, a street vendor, was selling vegetables in Mirpur of Dhaka without wearing a mask. 

When asked why he was without a mask, Rahim said that he had removed the mask just a little earlier due to excessive heat. “I’m sweating immensely and that’s why there is no mask on my face now,” he said. 

One Mithun was having a conversation with his friends at a tea stall in the same area. He said that being inside the home for hours was “monotonous” for him and his friends.  

“We’ll return home as soon as our tea is finished,” he said. 

During a visit to the Mirpur Commerce College area, Bangla Tribune found several children playing cricket on the street. 

Groceries were seen open in great numbers, with a large number of shopkeepers and salespersons observed to be without masks. Many customers too were without masks.

However, malls were kept closed as per government instructions to enforce the lockdown.

Kitchen markets were open in different areas, but the number of buyers was relatively thin.

Similar scenes were in Mohammadpur, Green Road, Kalabagan, Lalbagh, Kalyanpur and Hazaribagh areas in the capital.  

Interestingly, hardly any action was seen to be taken about those flouting health norms imposed in connection with the lockdown, which ends on April 11, except for a mobile court raid in Dhaka city. 

City Corporation magistrate Saleha Binte Siraj conducted the drive at Mirpur-12.and fined five shop owners for keeping their business open. 

The Dhaka district administration also carried out raids through mobile courts in Kalyanpur, and Mirpur-1 and -2—but only to inform people about upholding the lockdown measures. 

Monisha Rani, an executive magistrate of Dhaka district administration, said the authorities had formed 10 monitoring teams to keep an eye on the lockdown situation. 

“On the opening day, we’re just warning people who are defying the health protocol. But we’ll be stricter from the coming days,” she said.

Private cars, rickshaws reign city roads 

No public transport was seen hitting the city roads, thanks to the transport companies. But private cars, rickshaws and auto-rickshaws dominated the streets, reports UNB. 

As government, autonomous and private offices were allowed to operate with “limited manpower”, many were seen hiring rickshaws and auto-rickshaws to reach their offices and return home.

Rehana Begum, an employee of a private firm in Motijheel area and a resident of Rampura area, said, “I had to hire an auto-rickshaw at a much higher fare to reach my office today and it’ll be difficult for me to spend such a high amount of fare every day.”

Expressing his worry over the lockdown Haris Mia, a day-labourer, said, “The bleak days of the previous year have returned in our lives…there’s no one to think about us. Hunger will grip us if the lockdown continues.”

Protests against lockdown

Meanwhile, shop owners and employees of New Market and adjacent shopping malls staged demonstrations for the second consecutive day, protesting the closure of shopping malls during the lockdown.

They demanded that the government allow market owners to keep markets open for four hours every day during the shutdown.

The protesters first took to the streets on Sunday and vandalised a number of vehicles during the demonstrations. At one stage, they were embroiled in clashes with police.

Even traders in Islampur in Old Dhaka protested the government decision over keeping their businesses shut during the lockdown. They blocked roads in the area for some time. 

Businessmen in Chandpur town protested for an hour, starting at 12 noon, over the decision to keep shops closed.

People’s movement will be restricted from 6 pm to 6 am, and no one will be allowed to go outside except for emergency needs (to purchase medicines, daily essentials, to avail medical services and go through burials/ cremations of dead bodies, etc).

Hotels and restaurants can operate with takeaway/online services only. No one will be allowed to have food inside hotels or restaurants.

All shopping malls and markets will remain closed during this period but online services will be allowed. All shop employees must follow proper health guidelines.

Daily essential items can be sold in and purchased from open spaces from 8 am to 4 pm to maintain health protocols. Local administrations and the authorities concerned will ensure that the measures are in place.

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